tv NBC Nightly News NBC November 18, 2010 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, is marriage obsolete? it's a provocative idea, surprising news about american families and what they're now calling the marriage gap. a dramatic plea for mercy after a spectacular fall from power. and a surprise appearance in washington. under pressure. it's seen by some as a great energy source that provides jobs. but others say it does awful damage to our environment. and "making a difference" through the eyes of a dog. "nightly news" begins now.
captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. we want to begin with a number that's being called a game changer for how american society might look in the years to come. almost 40% of americans now say marriage is obsolete. that's way up from just a few decades ago. more and more people see marriage as something only for those with money, if they enter into it at all. almost one in three american children is now living with a divorced, separated or never married parent. this is in a major survey by a well regarded research center. if these numbers continue, it's a wholesale change to american life. we want to begin our reporting tonight with nbc's kevin tibbles in chicago. >> beaver, come here. >> reporter: a half century ago, the cleavers were the stereotype. married, two kids.
but apparently, no more. >> wow, times have changed. >> reporter: a pew research "time" magazine study found when asked straight up, 39% of americans say marriage is becoming obsolete. >> we found ourselves going to very elaborate weddings and then finding a few years later they didn't work out. so we've managed to outlast many of those people. >> i think people should get married. i think it's worth it. i think it's a commitment. >> reporter: while marriage is declining in all groups, it's a choice made mostly by the college educated and financially secure and less prevalent among those on the low end of the socioeconomic end of the scale. yet the concept of family remains vital. three quarters of those surveyed say their family is the most important element in their lives. but what is a family in today's america? 86% say they would view a single parent with a child as a family. 80% say an unmarried couple with a child.
and 63% say a gay or lesbian couple raising a child, whether they're allowed to marry or not. >> it's confusing to people trying to figure out how this family fits together, but we are a family. >> reporter: having children outside of wedlock has increased substantially. in 1960, just 5% of babies were born to unmarried women. in 2008, more than 40%. pew also found that 44% of adults say they've lived together without being married. although some believe it's better to tie the knot. >> marriage is extremely important to me, especially in raising a family. >> americans still believe in the centrality of family, even as the arrangements of family life today have changed so dramatically. >> reporter: the survey found what makes a marriage may be changing, it's family that matters most. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago.
now we turn to capitol hill. a harsh punishment announced for the once powerful democrat from harlem, charlie rangel. the ethics committee has voted to censure him for breaking house rules, but earlier in this day, before the panel made that decision, rangel made a last-ditch and emotional effort to defend his reputation. our own kelly o'donnell on the hill for us tonight. kelly, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. we saw a different charlie rangel today. monday, he walked out of his trial, had no lawyer. today, he was back with a friend and legend of the civil rights movement by his side. looking drained and diminished, once a tower of political influence, today, charles rangel faced scorn from colleagues. >> mr. rangel should only look into the mirror if he wants to know who to blame. >> reporter: found guilty of 11 house ethics violations involving taxes and fund-raising. >> the failure to pay taxes for 17 years.
what is that? >> reporter: rangel's fall is steep. 40 years in congress. a decorated korean war hero who marched for civil rights. today, an icon of that struggle. john lewis called him a good man. >> he came to salma and he walked with many of us, including dr. martin luther king, jr. >> reporter: the pain of this moment and that history filled the room. >> i hope mr. barner, in his statement, did not imply my lack of love for my country. >> reporter: the alabama republican who so forcefully chided rangel, stopped to praise his past. >> i'm grateful that you came and did what you did. >> reporter: but this hearing was about weighing punishment. >> it is my recommendation for a censure. >> reporter: rangel was at times frustrated and defiant, insisting his mistakes were careless and sloppy but not
about personal gain. >> i was not trying to criminally hide anything from the irs or from the congress. >> reporter: tapping a broader angry in the country, the committee said he broke the public trust. 80 years old, he pleaded for what he called a drop of mercy. >> i don't know how much longer i have to live, but it always will be to try to help people and to thank god for what he's given to me. >> reporter: and now the full house of representatives will consider censure. that's considered a serious penalty, just short of expulsion. he would be forced to go to the floor of the house and be rebuked publicly. he's also been ordered to pay back any taxes he may still owe. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on capitol hill tonight. kelly, thank you. we told you last night about the return of general motors to the stock market. as you as a taxpayer already had a huge investment in the company which was wailed out with taxpayer money and put through
bankruptcy proceedings. tonight, taxpayers are getting some of that back, and cnbc's phil lebeau is at the new york stock exchange to sell us how it went. phil, two years ago the company was all but left for dead. some of that taxpayer money coming back in. >> reporter: 11.8 and $13.6 billion. heavy shares for general motors today. the stock opened at $33 a share. finished at $34.19. there's plenty of enthusiasm for gm on the floor. the ceo of the company rang the opening bell. then they piped in the sound of a chevy camaro revving up. the leaders of gm are vowing not to repeat the mistakes of the old gm. they are currently making money here in the united states. ironically, this ipo comes exactly two years after former ceo rick wagoner went to capitol hill asking for a bailout of general motors. that ultimately led to the obama administration pumping $50 billion into saving general
motors through bankruptcy. now some of that money has come back through this ipo. but for the president today to come out and say listen, we're on the path to all of that money being repaid, which is what he said at the white house, think about this. the u.s. treasury will need to sell its remaining stake in general motors at approximately $50 or $51 a share. right now the stock is at $34. it's going to take a couple years for them to make that money back, if they make it all back. >> talk about a long road back. phil lebeau, thank you. and gm's good day was part of a broad rally on wall street today. the dow finished the day up more than 173 points. overseas tonight, there's high anxiety over the latest terrorism scare after a very suspicious package turned up at the main airport in manimbia in africa. apparent bound for munich in germany. and the german people have been warned of a possibly impending terrorist attack. our own stephanie gosk has
arrived in munich tonight and has the latest on the investigation. stephanie, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. u.s. officials tell nbc news this was not a bomb. it was actually a commercially made fake, complete with wires, batteries and a clock. the kind of thing normally used to test security procedures. what's unclear is why it was found in namibia. alongside luggage about to board an air berlin flight to this airport here in mupic. this comes as german officials are saying that a terrorist attack in this country could be imminent. the interior minister raised the threat level on wednesday and said that the government has received specific concrete information from an unspecified foreign intelligence group. there could be an attack in a major city in germany this week. they've raised security in train stations and airports. we noticed it here in munich, it's very clear this week that
german officials are worried that this country could be the terrorist's next target. brian? >> stephanie gosk in munich, germany tonight. stephanie, thank you. now to a story that combines our potentially dangerous times with politics in washington. the obama white house suddenly finds itself in a big fight over the start nuclear warms control treaty with russia. the president wants the senate to ratify it before the end of the year during this lame duck congress. but even as he heads off to europe in a nato meeting there, he's run into serious political headwinds and one man in the senate, republican senator john kyle of arizona, has decided to stop this. our white house correspondent savannah guthrie with us from the white house tonight with more on this. savannah, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. the president has put his credibility on the world stage on the line with this, but the man you mentioned, senator john kyle, told nbc today there is no chance this treaty gets passed this year. the president surrounded himself
with national security heavyweights, past and present, to turn up the heat on the senate to pass start. >> there is no higher national security priority for the lame duck session of congress. the stakes for american national security are clear, and they are high. >> reporter: the stakes for the president are high, coming off massive midterm election losses, up against a political clock when the new, more republican senate comes in january, the treaty will only get harder to pass. >> signing the treaty between the united states of america and the russian federation. >> reporter: signed last spring in prague, the agreement calls for russia and the u.s. to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and sets up an inspection regime for each country's nuclear arsenal. the white house says prior treaties have passed with big bipartisan majorities. but in the senate, john kyle of
arizona is leading a republican wall of opposition, arguing before making any more cuts there should be more funds to modernize u.s. nuclear forces. even the administration's last-minute promise of an additional $4 billion has failed to persuade. >> under wartime conditions, it would take 30 seconds to fire the missile. >> reporter: with mutual nuclear fear once the hallmark of u.s.-russian relations, the obama administration has made reset with russia a priority and says failure to get the treaty now means jeopardizing russian cooperation on other issues like curbing iran's nuclear ambitions. "the new york times" editorializing today, the world's nuclear wanna bes, starting with iran, should send a thank you note to senator john kyle. but republicans say this should not be rushed. >> it's also about giving time to a new congress and ten new republican senators to weigh in on this very important national security treaty. >> reporter: the white house says there have been 18 hearings
on the hill on this. and all of this is coming to a head as the president heads tonight for portugal and the nato summit. brian. >> savannah guthrie on the white house north lawn tonight. thanks. when our broadcast continues here in a moment, some call it a promising way to produce clean energy here at home. but is it doing way more harm than good? and later, man's best friend making a difference and the people helping to make it happen. later, man's best friend making a difference and the people making it happen. jpmorgan chase set up new offices to work one-on-one with homeowners. since 2009, we've helped over 200,000 americans keep their homes. and we're reaching out to small businesses too, increasing our lending commitment this year to $10 billion and giving businesses the opportunity to ask for a second review if they feel their loan should have been approved. this is how recoveries happen.
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tonight, our chief environmental affairs correspondent anne thompson has the story. >> reporter: in pennsylvania, they're hoping history repeats itself. home to the nation's first oil well, it changed the way america lives. now the rush is on for the natural gas beneath these hills to do the same. >> natural gas isn't perfect, but it's better than coal or oil. >> reporter: but collecting this cleaner burning fuel involves a complicated and controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. a well is drilled vertically and then horizontally. under high pressure, millions of gallons of water mixed with a chemical cocktail and sand are pumped down the well to fracture the rock and release the gas. with large scale fracing under way in ten states and generating tens of thousands of jobs each year, excitement about profits is tempered by worries from residents around environmentalists about risks,
such as shotty wells or spills and mistakes in the fracing process. the emmy award winning anti-fracing documentary "split a state" highlights problems in colorado. >> oh, yeah, it burns. >> reporter: in pennsylvania, a pipe vents gas from craig's water well under his front yard. if you didn't have this pipe, what could happen? >> it could either be an explosion right here at the wellhead or inside the house. most likely probably in the house. >> reporter: state officials say just drilling the gas well contaminated the water supply in their neighborhood, before the fracing ever began. >> i have been dizzy in the shower, and have had headaches and yes, i have broken out in hives from using the water. >> reporter: cabot oil and gas which drilled the well, now delivers bottled drinking water and every day fills this tank in their garage for showers and laundry. despite paying $300,000 in fines, cabot says it's not responsible.
a position pennsylvania's secretary of environmental protection says is eroding support for natural gas development. >> cabot has just lawyered up and pr'd up and has told pennsylvania that they can -- we can pretty well shove it. >> reporter: cabot says its drilling practices exceed industry stran dards and that the process of fracing is safe. >> 1.1 million wells that have been fraced, no known contamination. >> reporter: but from well drilling to treating the water used in fracing, there are complaints. for regulators, this is a very difficult balancing act. they want to tap into this homegrown energy source and its economic benefits. but without putting at risk one of our most vital natural resources, drinking water. >> that's a trade i don't think we need to make and if we're start about it now and ask the right questions, we shouldn't have to make.
>> reporter: trying to power the future and preserve the present. anne thompson, nbc news, pennsylvania. up next, when we talk about these new patdowns at the airport, what exactly do we mean? tonight, we have the pictures. we'll show you what exactly it means when we continue. we'll show you what exactly it means when we continue. but basically, i'm a runner. last year. (oof). i had a bum knee that needed surgery. but it got complicated, because i had an old injury. so i wanted a doctor who had done this before. and unitedhealthcare's database helped me find a surgeon. you know you can't have great legs, if you don't have good knees. we're 78,000 people looking out for 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. [ susan ] i hate that the reason we're always stopping is because i have to go to the bathroom. and when we're sitting in traffic, i worry i'll have an accident. be right back.
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it's part of a slide show of photos on the "denver post" website. they all show the personal nature of these inspections. and along those same lines, sanford airport in orlando is in the news because it will join 17 other airports that have opted out of the tsa and will use private screeners instead. to meet those same tsa security standards. manager of the airport said today he wants to be more sensitive to passenger rights. one veteran congressman is urging airports to drop the tsa. now for his part, the tsa chief vowed again this week not to change these new procedures, even in the face of such protest. most flyers we should emphasize, so far seem willing to undergo these checks. the u.s. air force is reminding its men and women in uniform not to use the kinds of social media that give away their present location. services like facebook, and foursquare are designed to let your friends track your current whereabouts.
that's not a good thing if you're in uniform and there's an even michigan out there who would love to know where the americans are. decades ago, this was known by the warning "loose lips sink ships." word from london that westminister abby is emerging as the favorite venue for the royal wedding between prince william and kate who we are being urged to call catherine middleton. if the abby is selected, and we may learn this as early as tomorrow, it will be the second direct relation, along with the engagement ring itself, to william's late mother, princess diana. westminister abby is where her funeral was held. when we come back, "making a difference." by making the most of the endless love and loyalty dogs have for us. loyalty dogs have for us.
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and 50 percent off of brand name prescription drugs if you're in the donut hole. stella: you read my paper. jane: i went to medicare.gov. it's open enrollment, you know. so i checked out all the options and found a better plan to fit my budget. stella: well, you know what they say...knowledge... jane: knowledge is power. our "making a difference" report tonight is about the unconditional love of a dog. for people living with disabilities, a trained professional canine companion can make all the difference in the world with the stuff of everyday life. but that's just the start. our own ron mott recently saw the healing power of some of
these special dogs and met the woman who teaches them how to be truly a best friend. and a warning here, if you love dogs, you better be sitting down for this one. >> reporter: at this training camp outside atlanta, oohs and awes follow recruits almost everywhere they go. from agility exercises to mischievous rest stops to something more enlightening. for nearly 20 years -- >> i just want you to focus on whether or not you feel like the dog is in sync with you. >> reporter: jennifer arnold's canine assistant program has paired service dogs with disabled people. marriage of personality and purpose. >> i liked dogs when we started. i am now in awe of them.
>> there's my boy. >> reporter: diagnosed with multiple sker row sis as a teen, she started the nonprofit her dad hoped to, funding the program through corporate sponsorships and book sales. they breed their own dogs, provide lifetime care, fly in recipients and their families. >> our next couple, gillian and jonathan. >> reporter: then match just the right dog with just the right person. all for free. >> there's a tremendous amount of time, effort and money put into these matches. only about 80 to 100 dogs are placed here every year. nowhere near enough to meet the demand. in fact, the waiting list is 2,000 recipients long. a tumor caused 10-year-old jasmine brain damage. her special companion has been a long time coming. >> you go through so much trial and tribulation and surgery and you want to wrap your arms around joy. >> reporter: and they do. joy spotted in a quick smile or tiny touch. >> when the dog looks up at their person, the love reflected
in their eyes is so powerful, that i think it changes the way you feel about yourself. >> reporter: new best friends. >> i love you already. >> reporter: together at last. ron mott, nbc news, milton, georgia. >> what's not to love? we have a link to the organization on our website, nightly.msnbc.com. for now, for us, that's our broadcast for this thursday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. and we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com www.vitac.com okay. you better break out the mittens. after record-setting heat, we are in for a big change in the next 24 hours. check out the storm front brewing off the coast. good evening, everybody. i'm jessica aguirre. >>